JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Wounded heroes of the U.S. Armed Forces were recognized Friday evening by Jacksonville’s Military Affairs and Veterans Department and the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 524.
The event at the Veterans Memorial Wall was open to the public and those who have been awarded the Purple Heart were honored during the ceremony. It was called Purple Heart Recognition Day.
Jim Wellmon served in the Vietnam and Iraq wars. He received his purple heart in 1970 after being wounded in Vietnam.
“You don’t think about it until it’s over with. It’s almost a complete sacrifice for your country, which I’m proud of,” Wellmon said.
He served for 28 years and is thankful the city of Jacksonville honors veterans like him.
William M. Smith hosted the Purple Heart event.
“I’ve been doing this since it started 15 years ago,” he said.
He served in Vietnam, where he also received a purple heart.
“I was just lucky to be alive,” he recalled. “I woke up in the field hospital and the purple heart was on my chest,” Smith said.
Following the program, attendees were invited to walk the Purple Heart Trail, a quarter-mile walk from the wall to the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.